Copper Nears Multi-Year Low as Economic Concerns Grow

A security guard standing next to a shipment of copper in Valparaíso, Chile. Investors have grown increasingly pessimistic on the outlook for the metal.


rodrigo garrido/Reuters

Copper prices fell Thursday, putting them within striking distance of a fresh multiyear low, as weak U.S. manufacturing data bolstered concerns over the health of the global economy.

Copper for September delivery was recently down 1.1% at $2.5575 a pound on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. Prices hit $2.5385 earlier this month, the lowest level since 2017.

A widely followed measure of manufacturing activity, IHS Markit’s flash reading for the manufacturing purchasing managers index, clocked in at 49.9 for August.

That was the lowest reading since 2009 and an indication that manufacturing activity, which is defined as expanding when readings are above 50, contracted for the first time in years.

The U.S. numbers dovetail with data from other major economies showing a slump in manufacturing—a negative development for copper, which tends to be sensitive to economic data because it is a key component in everything from smartphones to refrigerators.

Net bearish bets on copper in futures markets hit their highest level in around three years earlier this month, a sign that investors have grown increasingly pessimistic on the outlook for the metal amid slowing global growth and a weakening Chinese economy.

China is one of the world’s largest copper consumers, accounting for some 45% of global demand.

In precious metals, gold for December delivery fell 0.5% to $1,505.50 a troy ounce.

Meanwhile, U.S. oil was recently up 0.1% at $55.74 a barrel. Brent crude, the global benchmark, was down 0.1% to $60.27 a barrel.

Write to Ira Iosebashvili at

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